When I first started reading Blood Ties, the first book in this series, I confess I was shocked and somewhat offended. Heroines, even supposed "kick-butt" heroines, don't smoke like chimneys and drink like fish. I don't smoke and rarely drink and at first I didn't like her at all. But Julie Collins doesn't care if I like her. She's wrestling her own demons and she'd tell me right out front that she didn't give a flying **** about mine. And she got me. By this, the third book, I was totally hooked.
In a series that's both dark and real, Shallow Grave allows us ever deeper into Julie's world, where her best friend has a glass eye and her boyfriend is the definition of mad, bad, and dangerous to know. She's juggling a lot of stress, not least of which is her continuing grief and anger over her brother's death.
I can't praise this series enough. Tight plotting, true scary moments that made my heart pound, and unforgettable characters. Run, do not walk, to your nearest store and get this series of books. They are well worth it.